There are so many benefits to having a Dog Mentor in school, the main one being the health and well- being of both students and Staff alike. A dog has an immediate calming effect by just being nearby. As one of our Year 7 students said, “Just seeing Hugo or Duggee makes me smile and makes my day better straight away”!

The role of our Dog Mentors is to react and respond to students and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their handlers.   Hugo and Duggee have both supported students to develop in a range of academic, personal, and social areas:

  • teach empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills
  • help individuals develop social skills
  • the presence of our Dog Mentors can more quickly build rapport between teacher and pupil
  • improve individual’s skills to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships.
  • increase in school attendance
  • gains in confidence
  • decreases in learner anxiety behaviours resulting in improved learning outcomes, such as increases in reading and writing levels
  • positive changes towards learning and improved motivation
  • enhanced relationships with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional love from our Dog Mentors. This in turn helps students learn how to express their feelings and enter into more trusting relationships.



Hugo is 4 years old, a typical Cocker Spaniel full of energy but with the ability to remain calm when asked or needed.  He is affectionate and very gentle natured who loves having stories read to him and being taught new tricks. Hugo joined us in June 2022 and following the positive impact he so quickly made we introduced another Dog Mentor.



Duggee, our latest addition is a cockapoo.  Dug has been with us since he was 8 weeks old and Netherhall has become his second home.  He has made a big impact across the whole school, although only 6 months old he has joined lessons, supported students before exams and made himself very much at home in The Oakes.


Both our dogs are much-loved members of staff now and an integral part of the Netherhall School family.


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